Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“You’ve Got Mail” Seldom Heard in Cuba, The Guantanamo Hotel is No Exception

The sonorous tones announcing the arrival of an e-mail, which is so commonplace in the U.S. that “You’ve Got Mail” was the name of Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie, are virtually unknown in Cuban households. If you are Cuban, your only legal access to online services is through the island’s intranet, a government controlled and limited connectivity to the rest of the world. To send and receive e-mails freely, you must do so at hotels that cater to foreigners. At home—“Fuh-get about it!,” as Johnny Depp would say.

Until recently, Cuban nationals were not even permitted to enter the exclusive hotels that are set aside to accommodate foreigners. Now, however, access is permitted, but the Internet is still forbidden fruit. According to an account published in Havana Times on February 20, one Cuban discovered that the clerk at the Hotel Guantanamo in the city of Guantanamo would permit a Cuban national to access the Internet for an hour, but at a price—5 CU ($5 US)—more than that person’s weekly wage. In other words, fuh-get about it!

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